Why Wellbeing at Work Matters

emoji face

It’s no controversy that UK employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace and follow health and safety legislation to the letter, but this consensus hasn’t yet extended to psychological safety at work, despite the recent massive upswing in discussion of workplace wellbeing.

I would argue that the majority of employers still don’t take wellbeing in the workplace all that seriously.

Why is that?

Where traditional conceptions of health and safety are well understood, there’s something about the concept of workplace wellbeing that still strikes many as wooly and vague.

Some industries, particularly male dominated ones, demonstrate a certain amount of discomfort with engaging with the emotional aspect of employees’ lives, as it is perceived to be out of place in their particular line of work and existing work culture.

Another problem is that there is a whole swathe of employers who ‘get it’  – who understand that the wellbeing of their workforce matters – but they just don’t know where to start… so inaction follows.

Whenever I’m working with businesses who not only ‘get it’ but are also living the importance of workplace wellbeing, the difference is palpable. There’s a pride and a buzz and a feeling of belonging.

Things that get championed in workplaces like this:

  • flexible working
  • staff social engagement
  • preventative training
  • timely support &
  • coaching culture…

…have been shown time and again have a transformative effect on employee experience.

Having a management culture that is comfortable to share experiences and curate conversations about mental health is another critical element in creating a culture where wellbeing at work matters.

For the skeptics who feel that the personal and the professional should be kept separate, or that wellbeing at work in some way undermines professionalism and could even inhibit productivity, all they need to do is take a look at the business case.

Current research strongly indicates that attending to wellbeing at work benefits organisations across the board:  performance, productivity, innovation, loyalty, brand reputation, retention and attendance all gain.

There’s nothing touchy-feely about that, is there?

None of us know what the future of the workplace will look like. The world is changing at a dizzying speed.

Whatever changes are to come, one fact will remain: happy people are more motivated than unhappy people. They are more adaptable to change.

Stronger employees make for a stronger business, always.

That’s why recognising wellbeing at work matters and why it is vital for any organisation that wants to succeed.

If you want to hear more about the resilience training we offer, start by watching our one minute video here, it will give you a preview of what our Resilience training explores. Any questions? You can click here to contact us.

HOW DOES COMMUNICATION AFFECT RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK?

Communication Style

Working relationships at their best are productive, co-operative and even joyful. Frequently though, despite our best intentions, they can be frustrating sources of conflict and misunderstanding.

Here are 4 ways that communication affects our relationships at work for better or worse, depending on the awareness and skills we bring.

1. Communication Style

Some colleagues and clients are easier to talk to than others. When communication seems effortless with another person the chances are it’s because we share a similar communication style with them.

We’ve all got a communication style comfort zone that we automatically operate from. There are 4 broad styles, Promoter, Controller, Facilitator and Analyst.

Knowing which style you have and learning how to talk in the style of another person with them will close the distance between you, minimising frustration, misunderstanding and distrust.

2. Active listening

Have you ever worked with someone who talks a lot about what’s going on with them but rarely checks in to see how you’re doing? Contrast the quality of that sort of working relationship with one where your colleague does take an interest in your challenges and achievements. Which relationship grows you and motivates you more? The answer is obvious.

When someone takes the time to listen to us, to give us the space to finish our sentences and then ask us follow-up questions that delve deeper into what we have just said, we feel valued by them. And it’s the working relationships in which the participants feel mutually valued that are the most productive ones.

Play a game next time you speak to a colleague. Try to avoid using the word ‘I’ and give your self 5 points for every ‘How, what and why’ question you ask them in response to what they’re saying. Invite them to play the same game next time they talk to you.

3. Inflammatory language

When the workplace is a source of stress, 9 times out of 10 it’s not the work that is the problem, it’s certain people that we work with. When we experience conflict with colleagues, a big determinant of that conflict is our own inability to see the role that we ourselves are playing in keeping the conflict alive. We are often so focused on the failures of the other person and how they are making things difficult that we overlook the only half of the equation that we have any real control over; our own actions. Specifically, the language we chose to use.

Practising Non-Violent Communication weans us off the habit of using ‘inflammatory language’ – language the carries implicit judgment or blame. It helps us to give people objective feedback aimed at a behavioural level rather than identify level, rather bombarding them with our emotionally loaded opinions of what they should and shouldn’t have done. And importantly, it enables us to take responsibility for our own emotional reaction to the situation rather than making it all about them.

When we feel under attack we get defensive. Listening stops, progress stops and conflicts don’t get resolved. Non Violent Communication takes the ‘attack’ out of our language use and builds foundations for more understanding and respectful relationships with even the most challenging colleagues.

4. Assertiveness

It’s nice to be nice and most us like to be liked. This can sometimes backfire and negatively impact on our relationships at work though. Our desire to be seen as agreeable often causes us to agree to taking things on that we don’t actually have the time or headspace to do. If we’re in the habit of doing this, it runs the risk of storing up resentment in our work relationships. We resent others for asking too much of us and the they resent us for letting them down when we commit to more obligations than we can properly fulfil. So learn to skilfully say no. Here’s how:

i) Start with their name. Studies show that we experience brain activation when someone says our name so we tend to listen really carefully to whatever is said next.

ii) Acknowledge their request. This shows that you have really listened to what they have asked of you and signals respect.

iii) ‘I’m going to say no.’ This is simultaneously assertive and emotionally considerate use of language; you are linguistically ‘softening the blow’ of the no by structuring it this way.

iv) Give one good single reason why. Less is more here. More than one reason will start to sound like excuses.

v) Offer an alternative, if possible. This sends the message that you are supportive, and the support  has to be on terms that also suit you.

 Practice this technique to build and maintain healthy, authentic and boundaried workplace relationships.

Whatever the communication skills are that we want to develop, the key is to take ourselves out of auto-pilot and into an awareness of the  big shifts we can achieve in our work relationships with small changes to how we talk and listen.

If you want to hear more about the resilience training we offer, start by watching our one minute video here, it will give you a preview of what our Resilience training explores. Any questions? You can click here to contact us.